The Capital punishment system in respect of india


Throughout history, various civilizations have employed different methods of punishment for crimes, often reflecting the values and principles of the society at the time.

During the Mauryan Dynasty era, offenders were subjected to punishments that matched the nature of their crimes, often following the principle of “an eye for an eye, a hand for a hand,” where the punishment corresponded to the offense committed.

One of the earliest known codifications of criminal laws related to capital punishment was by King Hammurabi of Babylon. His Code of Hammurabi, inscribed on a stele, outlined specific punishments for various offenses, including the imposition of the death penalty.

Under British rule in India, the death penalty was administered through a legal process, often following trials or even in some cases without due process. However, with India’s independence in 1947 and the establishment of a republic, significant changes occurred in the country’s judicial system.

Post-independence, India’s legal landscape underwent transformations, including reforms in the administration of capital punishment. The Indian judicial system evolved to incorporate principles of justice, fairness, and human rights.

The United Nations has declared capital punishment a violation of human rights. This stance reflects a global movement towards abolishing the death penalty and promoting alternative forms of punishment and rehabilitation.

 The history of capital punishment illustrates the evolution of legal systems and societal values over time. From ancient civilizations to modern nations, attitudes towards punishment have shifted, with an increasing emphasis on human rights and justice in the administration of criminal justice.


Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the legal imposition of death as a penalty for committing certain crimes. In India, capital punishment is reserved for the most serious and heinous offenses.

Under Section 368 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, the authority to confirm a death sentence lies with the High Courts. This provision ensures a thorough review process before the imposition of capital punishment.

The death penalty in India is typically reserved for crimes that are deemed to be of the utmost severity and rarity. These cases often involve extreme violence, brutality, or other egregious acts.

India’s stance on the death penalty aligns with global efforts to promote human rights and dignity. During a resolution at the UN General Assembly calling for a prohibition on the death penalty, India voted in favor of the resolution, reflecting its commitment to upholding human rights principles.

India’s approach to capital punishment emphasizes the need for stringent review processes, reserved only for the most severe and rare cases, while also recognizing the importance of respecting human rights and international standards.


  • Mithu vs. State of Punjab (1983): In this case the Supreme Court of India invalidated Section 303 of the Indian Penal Code, which mandated capital punishment for certain offenders. This decision marked a significant development in India’s legal landscape by striking down the provision that prescribed mandatory death penalty.
  • Bachan Singh vs. State of Punjab (1980): In this case the Supreme Court articulated that the death penalty should be reserved only for the rarest of rare cases. This principle set forth by the court established stringent criteria for imposing capital punishment, emphasizing the need for careful consideration and judicial discretion in such cases.
  • Jagmohan vs. State of U.P. (1972) :This was the first case to address the constitutional validity of capital punishment in India. While this case did not result in the abolition of the death penalty, it initiated discussions and legal scrutiny regarding the constitutionality and ethical considerations surrounding the imposition of capital punishment in the country.

These cases reflect the evolving jurisprudence surrounding capital punishment in India, with courts engaging in deliberative processes to ensure that the imposition of the death penalty aligns with principles of justice, fairness, and human rights.

the rulings in Mithu vs. State of Punjab, Bachan Singh vs. State of Punjab, and Jagmohan vs. State of U.P. have played instrumental roles in shaping India’s approach to capital punishment, emphasizing the importance of judicial discretion, fairness, and constitutional principles in its application.


In India, the death penalty is typically carried out through two methods: hanging and shooting.

Hanging has been the primary method of execution in India since independence. Nathu Ram Godse was the first convict to be executed by hanging after independence. Over time, the Supreme Court of India has suggested that the death penalty should only be awarded in the rarest of rare cases, emphasizing the need for stringent criteria and judicial discretion in its imposition.

Shooting is another method of execution permitted under specific circumstances in India. The Army Act and the Air Force Act of India provide provisions for the implementation of capital punishment. Section 34 of The Air Force Act, 1950 empowers court-martial to try individuals who commit unlawful acts against the law.

These legal provisions outline the framework for implementing the death penalty in India, emphasizing adherence to due process and ensuring that capital punishment is administered judiciously and in accordance with the law.


 the death penalty in India reflects a complex legal landscape shaped by historical precedents, judicial interpretations, and evolving societal values. The Supreme Court’s landmark decisions, such as those in Mithu vs. State of Punjab and Bachan Singh vs. State of Punjab, have established stringent criteria for imposing capital punishment, emphasizing its reservation for the rarest of rare cases. While hanging remains the primary method of execution, provisions in the Army Act and the Air Force Act also allow for the implementation of the death penalty through shooting under specific circumstances. These legal frameworks underscore the importance of upholding due process, judicial discretion, and human rights principles in the administration of capital punishment. As India continues to grapple with the ethical and legal complexities surrounding the death penalty, ongoing discussions and reforms aim to ensure that its application aligns with principles of justice, fairness, and respect for human dignity.

                                                                                                     WRITTEN BY :SRISTY DEY

                                                                                                   INSTITUTION:JIS UNIVERSITY

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *